Day 330


Adrian sends me this article about a guy, who, like most people,
thinks cryonics is the pseudo-scientific process of freezing rich dead people
as a cash grab. Then the guy learns it’s relatively inexpensive and has nothing
to do with freezing, but vitrification – the transformation of your lifeless body
into an amorphous crystallized substance, that, importantly,
doesn’t damage your organs the way ice does. The possibility of this
working one day hasn’t been refuted, and since we’re not getting worse
at molecular nanotechnology, the more likely worry might be
war or climate change forcing the company under, rendering your glass-like body
and mind unsalvageable.                                     Still, this guy’s thinking,
at least it gives me a fighting chance. Death’s a process, not an event.
People died of things hundreds of years ago that wouldn’t cause a flap now.     

He goes to visit the company and is at last convinced, not by them
or Science or probability, but Dylan Thomas. Specifically, rage, rage
against the dying of the light. Which I hadn’t read since high school,
though I doubt it’s what the poem had in mind. Then again, I thought the poem
was about his father’s death. Turns out his father didn’t die until five years
after its publication.                                          I first read Under Milkwood

on the Isle of Barra, a five hour ferry trip north of Scotland, which is not Wales,
but was still close enough for me to walk around  like I was experiencing

something authentic. Hell, Iggy Pop once recorded rage, rage, against the dying
of the light for an ad agency. The problems of translation are well-documented.

Even if people weren’t lazy and opportunistic, we’re still screaming at each other
across cultures and generations.                         And yet

there’s a potential 2097 or 2132 or 2265 where that guy wakes up
in a virtual world in which he’s somehow not indentured to a computer,

and though everything he’s ever known is gone and everyone he’s ever loved
is dead, it’s still the most wondrous experience, beyond all previous human

conception, which he gets to live because the poem, it turns out, prepared him
properly for his future. The same way the poem prepared the author himself,

potentially, for the eventual death of his father. In spite of Science
and common sense and my judging him, this guy’s rage – his very specific,

somewhat nerdy, blindingly optimistic rage – was exactly what was called for,
and now the world will burn forever, the light will never die.

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